Palestinian, Israeli religious leaders launch new effort to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict
By Mohamed Elshinnawi
An independent group of Palestinian and Israeli religious leaders, meeting in Washington, has launched an initiative to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group says it hopes to counter extremism by facilitating dialogue among the region's moderate voices. Speaking Wednesday at a Washington news conference, members of the group, called the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, said they are working closely with the political leaders of Israel and the Palestinian authority to support current peace initiatives. VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi prepared this report.
The Voice of the Holy Land
All of us believe in one Creator and Guide of the Universe. We believe that the essence of religion is to worship Him and respect the life and dignity of all human beings, regardless of religion, nationality and gender.
We accordingly commit ourselves to using our positions of leadership, and the influence of our good offices, to advance these sacred values, to prevent religion from being used as a source of conflict, and instead serve the goals of just and comprehensive peace and reconciliation.
2. Establish mechanisms to monitor media for derogatory representations of any religion, and issue statements in response to such representations.
3. Together reflect on the future of Jerusalem, support the designation of the Old City of Jerusalem as a World Heritage Site, work to secure open access to the Old City for all communities, and seek a common vision for this city which all of us regard as holy.
4. Promote education for mutual respect and acceptance in schools and in the media. We will sponsor a conference for Israeli and Palestinian educators, academics and Ministers of Education on “The Role of Religion in Educating for Peace: Principles and Practices.”
5. Demonstrate through our relations that differences can and should be addressed through dialogue rather than through violence, and strive to bring this message to our respective communities and political leaders that they may embrace this approach accordingly.
6. Provide ongoing consultation to our government leaders, and through the example of our work together remind them that the interests of one community can only be served by also respecting and valuing the humanity and interests of all other communities.